Friday, June 27, 2014

Hobby Lobby; abortion buffer zones … all on FOT Tuesday

Next Monday the U. S. Supreme Court will end its session with a momentous decision in the  Hobby Lobby case [Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius].  It has already decided that the Massachusetts law that created 35-foot no-entry – or buffer – zones around the entrances of abortion clinics was unconstitutional [McCullen v. Coakley].

To discuss these cases we’re welcoming back one of our favorite guests, Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life legal Defense Foundation.  Join Dana, Deacon Mike Manno, and Gina Noll as we discuss these important decisions for people of faith.  Tuesday at 9 a.m. CDT on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on  The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m.
Faith On Trial – every Tuesday at 9 & 9 on Iowa Catholic Radio, KWKY Des Moines.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court strikes Massachusetts buffer law – Victory for free speech!

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court today struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law that created 35-foot no-entry zones around the entrances and driveways of abortion clinics in that state. The law made it a crime to “enter or remain” within the zone, unless one fell under one of the four exemptions for patients, clinic employees, public safety officials, and persons passing through the zone without stopping.

Dana Cody
The Court affirmed the time-honored nature of public streets and sidewalks as public fora, and held that the Massachusetts law was not narrowly tailored to meet the government’s asserted interests. The Court made clear that requiring peaceful sidewalk counselors to remain 35 feet from their intended audience is too burdensome of their rights, and is not justified by any evidence of unlawfulness on the part of the pro-life speakers.
Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court with Justices Scalia and Alito writing separate concurring opinions, in which they urged that the Court might have gone farther in affirming and protecting free speech rights.

From the majority opinion in McCullen v. Coakley: “The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests.” The case was reversed and remanded back to the First Circuit for further proceedings.
“We are gratified that the Court saw how wrong the Massachusetts law is,” said Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation and a frequent guest on Faith On Trial. “And while we wish the decision had recognized the content-restrictions inherent in this type of law, this decision is truly a victory for courageous, compassionate sidewalk counselors in Massachusetts who have saved hundreds of lives through their quiet outreach offering help and alternatives to women. The purpose of this law was to silence the truth about abortion – it ends the lives of children and harms women. Roe made abortion legal, not safe. With this ruling, pro-life speakers will be enabled to share their life-affirming message.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation next on FOT

Tuesday Lea Carawan, executive director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF) will join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll on Faith on Trial.

Alarmed by the concerted effort to remove God from every vestige of government and to silence the voice of millions, CPCF is at the center of a growing network of national, state
Lea Carawan
and local leaders who are working together to restore, upgrade and popularize America’s founding spirit and the principles related to faith and morality that shaped this Great Republic.  CPCF is mobilizing leaders and citizens who are committed to promoting prayer, preserving our Judeo-Christian heritage and protecting religious freedom for all.
In 2005, dozens of Members of Congress stood on the steps of our nation's Capitol and gave an historic call of prayer to America. They initiated an official "Call to Prayer" as a proclamation to all people of faith as to the need to follow the instruction of 2 Chronicles 7:14; to humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways that He may heal our land. Every week Members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, meet in Room 219 in the US Capitol to pray for each other and for our nation.

Join Lea, Deacon Mike, and Gina Tuesday at 9 a.m. (CDT) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on  The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tomorrow on FOT: Abortion coverage in the media

Dr. Brian Clowes
This week’s guest on FOT will be Brian Clowes, PhD.  He is director of education and research at Human Life International (HLI). A West Point graduate, Brian is a former A-Team leader for the Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”), and holds a PhD in Civil Engineering and Systems Science. Since 1995, he has been HLI’s director of research, and is the author of nine books, over 90 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 50 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.

Join Deacon Mike Manno, co-host Gina Noll, and Brian as they discuss how abortion and pro-choice violence is covered in the media. FOT is on Iowa Catholic Radio every Tuesday at 9 a.m. and rebroadcast at 9 p.m. (CDT) on 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

“Dating Lesson” asks eighth grade girls: How far will you go? Second school shows graphic sex slide show at “sex-ed” class

Parents are fuming after eighth grade girls were asked to publically state how far they would go sexually on a date.  According to press reports, teachers in the Woodland park Middle School in San Marcos, California school had the girls stand under signs indicating their sexual activity.  The signs read “smiled at,” “hugged,” “kissed,” “above the waist,” “below the waist,” and “all the way.”

In a press statement the school defended the class as “opening lines of communication between parents and students about dating expectations.”
In the Pine Valley Middle School, in Pine Valley, California, students were subjected to a slide show on sexual positions and “conception myths.”  One slide showed a woman standing on a man with the message that being “on top” will not prevent pregnancy; another showed a man with bloody hands with the message, “A real man loves his woman every day of the month.”
One wonders where this generation of “educators” comes from. The moral of this story: Watch closely what is happening to your children in school.

False charges impede pro-life sidewalk counselor’s free speech rights

 The Chicago-based Thomas More Society filed a brief last week in the Michigan Court of Appeals, challenging a personal protective order requiring a pro-life sidewalk counselor to stay at least 500 feet away from a Detroit abortion clinic. Chris Coatney advocates the sanctity of life outside of the Summit Women’s Center, where he speaks with abortion-bound women and couples in an effort to save their babies. The order was entered after Denise Burrell, the manager of the inner city abortion clinic, claimed that Coatney’s speech was threatening and that she was afraid of him. This assertion was made despite video evidence showing Burrell and colleagues threatening and abusing Coatney. 

“This is a gross abuse of Michigan’s stalking law to suppress the free speech of a peaceful, persuasive sidewalk counseling veteran,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Mr. Coatney presented video evidence proving that the claims against him are utterly false. We are confident that our appeal will free Coatney from this
Tom Brejch
gag order, so that he may continue his peaceful efforts to speak the message of life with vigor and eloquence to abortion-bound women.”

Under the current personal protective order, Coatney is required to stay at least 500 feet away from the abortion clinic. This prohibits him from participating in sidewalk counseling or otherwise communicating with abortion clinic patrons, which is something he had done every day at the abortion clinic for several years. 

Contrary to the claims of the abortion facility manager, video evidence shows that Coatney has been harassed, even assaulted, by the clinic employees and their associates on multiple occasions:

  • In July 2010, relatives of facility manager Burrell tore the pro-life signs off of Coatney’s van and ripped them up.

  • Three months later, in October, as Coatney drove away from the Summit Women’s Center abortion facility after sidewalk counseling, Burrell got in her vehicle and followed him. He stopped at the gas station in an attempt to distance himself from Burrell who dogged him and did not stop until Coatney drove to a police station.

  • Later, Coatney was physically assaulted by two clinic patrons. Upon exiting the clinic, they knocked him to the ground and grabbed both his cameras.  Coatney righted himself and did not fight back.  Inexplicably, this event was cited by the complainant and her lawyer as proof of why Burrell was so afraid of Coatney, namely, that he didn't even fight back when knocked down.
Patrick T. Gillen, Thomas More Society special counsel, explained, “The court entered a personal protective order in violation of the plain language of Michigan’s stalking law and with utter disregard for Mr. Coatney’s First Amendment rights.  We are confident that the Michigan Court of Appeals will reverse this egregious error and set an important precedent governing the application of Michigan law that will protect Mr. Coatney and other peaceful pro-life counselors.” 

Coatney, a Detroit postal worker, devotes his off-hours almost exclusively to his pro-life sidewalk counseling advocacy, in order to save babies and their mothers from abortion. He invests significant amounts of his own money to print signs and other pro-life literature.

Police chief retaliates against “Impeach Obama” Tea Party activist

In a bizarre turn of events, Gregory Luce found himself the target of harassing e-mails and phone calls as a result of retaliation by Campbell, Wisconsin Chief of Police Timothy Kelemen. Luce was targeted for retaliation after he spoke out against a city ordinance which prohibits citizens from displaying the American flag and wearing t-shirts that call for the impeachment of President Barack Obama on a pedestrian highway overpass managed by the town.

Luce is a devout Catholic and member of the Tea Party.  He opposes President Obama on several issues, including the President’s stance on abortion.

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, represents Mr. Luce in a federal lawsuit challenging the ordinance. The lawsuit named the town as well as the chief and a police officer as defendants.  However, on Friday, June 6, 2014, TMLC attorneys filed an amended complaint after an investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff’s investigators revealed that Chief Kelemen used his police department and home computers to sign Luce up for a series of unwanted solicitations including solicitations from homosexual oriented pornography and dating websites.  Luce is a married, heterosexual man.

TMLC attorney Erin Mersino, a frequent FOT guest, who is the principal attorney on the
TMLC Attorney Erin Mersino
case commented, “All citizens should be free to exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of retaliation—especially retaliation at the hands of individuals, such as the head of law enforcement, who hold so much power in our communities.”

After initially denying any involvement in the harassment of Luce, the chief ultimately admitted the harassment as an attempt to “get back at” Luce after detectives told him they had traced the unwanted solicitations to his IP addresses at the police department and his home. Detectives have referred their investigation to the Monroe County District Attorney for criminal prosecution under Wisconsin law.  On the civil front, TMLC amended its complaint to add counts of retaliation, invasion of privacy, and civil Identity Theft.

Chief Kelemen used Gregory Luce’s personal information, including home address, telephone number and e-mail address, to create profiles and accounts on numerous pornographic and dating websites featuring homosexual men, insurance companies, and the “Obamacare” website The accounts created by Kelemen resulted in Luce receiving approximately 15 phone calls in a single day regarding the profiles made using his information.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Planned Parenthood closes clinics in Red Oak and Creston, Iowa

Planned Parenthood facilities in two southwest Iowa towns are shutting down.  Thomas More Society-Omaha confirmed that a sign hanging on the door at the Red Oak abortion facility declares that the facility will be “consolidated” with another Iowa Planned Parenthood, effective June 18, 2014. The notice of these closings comes after months of prayer outside of these abortion clinics by dedicated pro-life advocates.

“The closing of two Planned Parenthood abortion facilities in Iowa is a great victory for life,” said Thomas More Society-Omaha attorney Martin Cannon. “Credit goes to the prayerful people of Red Oak and our listening God, but Thomas More Society also had the honor of assisting these men and women. By clarifying the existence of public property in front of the clinic, we were able to work with the police of Red Oak to ensure that the people’s First Amendment rights to assemble on public property were respected.”
The pro-life prayer vigil and sidewalk counseling efforts at the Red Oak facility were jeopardized during the Spring 2014 40 Days for Life campaign, when Planned Parenthood challenged the right of pro-life advocates to stand on the grass parkway.  The abortion provider tried to have the praying crowd arrested and charged with criminal trespassing, claiming that those praying were on private property.  

Initially, the police concurred with Planned Parenthood, but after intervention by Cannon and the Thomas More Society-Omaha, the Red Oak city administrator verified the public right of way. Legally equivalent to a public sidewalk, this is a “traditional public forum” in the eyes of the law and constitutes a place where people have a First Amendment right to assemble.  

Many in the area believe that the Planned Parenthood sites fell victim to the unrelenting presence of those peacefully offering life-saving alternatives to abortion.  Regardless, the fact is that the Red Oak abortion facility and its sister clinic in Creston, 40 miles down the same highway, are closing.

Virginia Community College System consents to court order in student’s legal challenge to unconstitutional speech codes

The Virginia Community College System consented to a court order that prohibits it from enforcing unconstitutional speech policies and zones challenged by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a student. The policy changes affect all 23 of the system’s schools.

Under the new policy, students are no longer required to be part of a student organization before they can speak in the open areas of campus. Also, student free speech will no longer be limited to “free speech zones” designated by college officials, and students will no longer be required to register with their college four days in advance of engaging in free speech.

“Colleges should support--not censor--student speech. We commend the Virginia Community College System for revising its speech policy to align with what a marketplace of ideas should be,” said Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “The revised policies respect the rights of all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs, to speak freely in the outdoor areas of campus, and students no longer have to jump through unconstitutional hoops to exercise the freedoms that the First Amendment protects.”

Last September, Thomas Nelson Community College prohibited Christian Parks from expressing his Christian beliefs in a large courtyard of the college. An officer from the college’s police department told him he must stop preaching because the content of his speech might offend someone. School officials then told Parks that his speech violated the Student Code of Conduct and VCCS policies.

“The decision of one student to take a stand has brought about greater freedom for students on 23 college campuses in Virginia,” added Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “We hope this case motivates others to take similar stands so that they and all Americans will be able to continue to benefit from the constitutional freedoms we have inherited and enjoy every day.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

AFLC appeals decision to discipline police captain for refusing to attend an Islamic proselytizing event; lead attorney to join us Tuesday on FOT

While courts often make erroneous decisions, particularly in controversial, politically-
Robert Muise
incorrect cases involving First Amendment freedoms, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s recent decision in the case of Captain Paul Fields, the Tulsa police officer who was summarily punished for objecting on religious grounds to an order mandating attendance at an Islamic proselytizing event to be held at a local mosque, was particularly egregious.

Friday, American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a petition for rehearing and request for full court review in this case. 

On May 22, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision that the City of Tulsa and two of its senior police officials did not violate the constitutional rights of Captain Paul Fields, a Tulsa Police officer who was summarily punished for objecting to an order mandating attendance at an Islamic proselytizing event held at a local mosque based on his religious beliefs.

Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the AFLC and lead counsel for Captain Fields in the case, will join us next Tuesday on Faith On Trial on Iowa Catholic Radio.  He is also representing Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests For Life in their challenge to the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate that requires employers to provide contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs to its employees.

Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll as they discuss these and other legal issues of interest to people of faith Tuesday at 9 a.m. (CDT) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on  The program will be re-broadcast Tuesday evening at 9.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tuesday on FOT: Roadblocks pro-life pregnancy centers face

Tom Glessner
On Faith On Trial this week we are going to discuss some of the legal and societal roadblocks that are placed in front of pro-life pregnancy centers.

Our guest will be Thomas A. Glessner, the founder and president of the National Institute of Family andLife Advocates (NIFLA), a public interest law firm founded in 1993 which is committed to legal counsel and training for pregnancy resource centers. NIFLA represents more than 1,300 pregnancy resource centers across the nation including InnerVisions HealthCare in West Des Moines. 

As the CEO of NIFLA, Tom has developed and implemented legal guidelines for pregnancy resource centers to enable them to convert their operations into licensed medical clinics and provide for abortion-minded clients’ medical services such as ultrasound. NIFLA provides life-affirming pregnancy resource centers with legal counsel, education, and training to enable them to avoid legal pitfalls in their operations. 

Tom is listed in Who’s Who in American Law and is a member of the bar associations for the United States Supreme Court, the State of Virginia and the State of Washington. As such, he has filed several “friend of the court” briefs in cases of major significance to the prolife movement in the United States Supreme Court. 

Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday morning at 9 (CDT) or for the re-broadcast at 9 p.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on-line at